(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "My Country And My People"

l6o          MY   COUNTRY   AND    MY   PEOPLE

psychopathology. As much artistic finesse was exercised in the
appreciation of different types of bound feet as was ever ex-
pended over the criticism of T'ang poetry. When one remem-
bers that really small and well-shaped feet were rare, perhaps
less than ten in a city, it is easy to understand how men could
be moved by them as they might be moved by exquisite poetry.
Fang Hsien of the Manchu Dynasty wrote an entire book
devoted to this art, classifying the bound feet into five main
divisions and eighteen types. Moreover, a bound foot should
be (A) Fat, (B) Soft and (G) Elegant; so says Fang:

Thin feet are cold, and muscular feet are hard. Such feet
are incurably vulgar. Hence fat feet are full and smooth to
the touch, soft feet are gentle and pleasing to the eye, and
elegant feet are refined and beautiful. But fatness does not
depend on the flesh, softness does not depend on the binding,
and elegance does not depend on the shoes. Moreover, you
may judge its fatness and softness by its form, but you may
appreciate its elegance only by the eye of the mind.

All those who understand the power of fashion over women
will understand the persistence of this institution. It is curious
to note that the decree of the Manchu Emperor K'anghsi to
stop footbinding among the Chinese was rescinded within a
few years, and Manchu girls were soon imitating Chinese girls
in this fashion until Emperor Ch'ienlung issued an edict and
forbade them. Mothers who wanted their girls to grow up into
ladies and marry into good homes had to bind their feet young
as a measure of parental foresight, and a bride who was praised
for her small feet had a feeling analogous to filial gratitude. For
next to a good face, a woman was immeasurably proud of her
small feet, as modern women are proud of their small ankles, for
these feet gave her an immediate distinction in any social